IELTS, or International English Language Testing System, is a world-wide recognised test of English language ability. Taking this test is necessary to enter an English-speaking university or to work abroad.

IELTS: Overview

IELTS is one of the most widely recognised English language tests along with TOEFL and TOEIC. To take this test, you need to have a certain level of spoken, written and listening English. The IELTS is made up of 4 tests, including Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. IELTS is open to all candidates over the age of 16, regardless of their degree or level of study. There are two test options: IELTS Academic for those who wish to study at an English-speaking university or abroad and IELTS General Training for those who plan to emigrate and work in an English-speaking country. To register for the test, you need to go through the British Council website. In France, IELTS test sessions are regular: three times a month for Paris, twice a month for Marseille and Lyon, and once a month for Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Nice, and there are 8 sessions a year for Nantes. The cost of an IELTS test is 235 euros.

IELTS: How it works

The IELTS test consists of 4 papers, including Listening: takes place in 40 minutes. It consists of 40 questions based on an audio recording of several discussions with different English accents. The questions concern general knowledge or social issues. Reading: this 60-minute test also includes 40 questions on texts taken from books, magazines or newspapers. Writing: the written expression is divided into two parts, one test of 150 words and another of 250 words. This test lasts 60 minutes. Speaking: the speaking part lasts 10-15 minutes. It consists of a discussion with an English-speaking person on a specific subject. The candidate has one minute to prepare his/her speech.

IELTS: scoring

The IELTS result is obtained 13 days after the written test. Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 9: 1: non-user 2: intermittent user 3 : extremely limited user 4 : limited user 5 : modest user 6 : competent user 7 : good user 8 : very good user 9: expert user Passing the IELTS test requires intensive preparation. There are books dedicated to this purpose. The British Council website also offers a free 10-hour online preparation course available to all, and 20 hours for test registrants.